Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fillmore Wine & Food Festival: Elite Café Lunch Benefiting Ronald McDonald House

Photo reportage by Yuri Krasov

An exceptional afternoon of live jazz and an exclusive 4-course lunch by Elite Café Chef James London. Host – Liam Mayclem of CBS’s EYE ON THE BAY. Wine and Food:

1.      Ousterhout Sauvignon Blanc and Landmark Vineyards Mirabelle Pinot Noir

2.      Hook & Ladder Gewurztraminer and Ousterhout Rose paired with Noir Hamachi Crudo

3.      Ousterhout Sauvignon Blanc and Hook & Ladder Pinot Noir paired with Black Bass with Celery

4.      Ousterhout Zinfandel, R&B Zinfandel, and R&B Cellars Syrah paired with Bacon Wrapped Rib Eye

5.      Hook & Ladder Late Harvest Gewurztraminer paired with Asian Pear Dessert

More information at:

Cupcake Wines – Enjoyable, Approachable, Affordable

By Emma Krasov

Cupcake Vineyards, although based in a wine-growing region of California’s Central Coast, doesn’t limit its production to the Golden State. In search of finely-crafted wines at affordable prices, “to help you celebrate your everyday moments of joy,” the company’s Director of Winemaking, Jessica Tomei, explores vineyards and works with winegrowers all over the world. Her goal is to source the best grapes possible for Cupcake wines. She then works in the company cellars to let the natural characteristics of the grapes shine through in clean-tasting delectable wines.
After introducing a small selection of fruit-forward, creamy wines in 2008, Cupcake Vineyards developed a portfolio that includes a wide variety of red, white and sparkling wines.

Tomei, a third-generation Californian, grew up in Italian and Greek family, and received a bachelor’s degree in Viticulture & Enology from the University of California, Davis – one of the world’s most respected universities for the study of winemaking. She has completed nearly 20 harvests around the world, working at vineyards in California, Italy, and Chile. Currently she’s fully engaged with Cupcake Vineyards wines characterized as “luscious, creamy, silky, zesty, intense, elegant, and complex.”
This week, Tomei visited San Francisco’s Central Kitchen in the Mission District, where she introduced a series of wonderful Cupcake wines paired with a five-course menu.

She paired Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco, Italy, with salumi and rich cheeses, explaining that this is how Prosecco is usually paired in Veneto region of Italy.

The aromatic, floral, and fresh with citrus notes (and deservedly famous) Cupcake Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, was matched with two dishes – heirloom tomato salad with cucumber, horseradish, parmesan, gin oil, and verbena bread crumbs, and also with smoked albacore tuna garnished with coal-roasted grapes, kale, and bottarga.
Pork agnolotti were paired with Cupcake Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California.

Hen roulade with a side of farro verde, carrot top pesto, and pickled carrot was paired with Cupcake Vineyards 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, California.

Finally, the chocolate custard with coffee ice cream, caramel, and almond found its perfect match in Cupcake Vineyards Moscato D’Asti, Italy.
Find more information about these delicious wines at:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Warwick – a Queen of Hotels, Aveline – a Crown Jewel

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
Choosing a place to stay in San Francisco shouldn’t be a chore. Beautiful vacations begin with anticipation… Especially if the place you’re choosing is the recently renovated historic Warwick – the Beaux-Arts style hotel established in 1913 and then proclaimed, “The House of Sunshine and Hospitality.” It was built by Arthur Brown Jr. – the same architect who created San Francisco’s hilltop marker Coit Tower and the magnificent City Hall – on the sunniest street corner (Geary and Taylor) in the city.

Located by the city’s main Union Square and world-famous shopping, theaters, museums, and the San Francisco’s moving landmark – the cable car – the Warwick is a perfect hideaway combining authentic history with all the modern conveniences and true hospitality.

Subtle architectural details and historical accents, like the original 1912 bronze chandelier and murals in the lobby; mirrors and pilasters in the hallways are complemented by the remodeled rooms’ décor, featuring the original turn-of-the-century headboards and armoires.
Plush snow-white bedding, refined marble-clad bathrooms, and designer throw pillows in golden and silvery hues patterned after classic Belle Epoque ornamentation create a wonderful feeling of being treated like royalty in the midst of a bustling contemporary metropolis.

To add to the Warwick’s ultimate seductiveness, a new bar, the European, and new Aveline restaurant, located on both sides of the elegant hotel lobby, offer innovative cocktails, and a unique dining concept by the TV Top Chef finalist Casey Thompson featuring her progressive Californian cuisine.

On the night we dined, a seasonal amuse bouche of tomato gelée was elegantly served in a frosted glass bowl.

Three types of house-baked bread came with house-made spreads.   

A picturesque Vegetable Garden salad was plated as a cute image of a miniature kitchen garden with sweet green peas, watermelon radishes, and other colorful toy-like vegetables “planted” in chicory soil with cashew “rocks” and sprouts “grass.”

The Chef’s signature star dish, Crab Macarons, came packed in a pastry box, which revealed the best savory macarons one could imagine, made with the fresh local Dungeness crab.

Yolk Beignet – another signature dish – was covered with thin layers of Wagyu beef and lardo, with a runny pouched egg yolk incrusted in fluffy dough.

A delicate slice of Sea Bass, garnished with greens, vegetables, and edible flowers, was bathed in tomato tea poured over it from a tea pot.

Succulent Fried Chicken was creatively embellished with kimchi powder, pickled baby vegetables, and red pepper puree.

Innovative house-made desserts included Me So from the menu section, titled “For those daring to try” – with black garlic, plum sorbet, pistachio, and yuzu jam, and Harvest, from “For those rooted in tradition” –with pickled apple, tart yogurt, beer meringue, smoked honey, and chicory cake.

Currently, the Warwick is offering special holiday packages: “Black Friday” four-day sale on November 28-December 1 with up to 50% off discounts good through March 31, 2015; “Holiday Shopping’s in the Bag” available November 24-December 30 and the “New Year’s Eve Warwick Full Floor Takeover” only on December 31, 2014.

The Warwick San Francisco features 74 guest rooms and 20 luxury suites, Gilchrist & Soames Spa Line bath amenities, bathrobe and slippers in each room, pillow menu, free wireless internet access, in-room coffee maker and a snack basket, and other conveniences.

More information at:,  For restaurant reservations call 415-345-2303.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Williams-Sonoma Returns to Sweet Home at Original 1956 Location

By Emma Krasov, photography by Emma Krasov

A world-famous specialty retailer of high-quality products for the kitchen and home, loved by the professional chefs and home cooks alike, Williams-Sonoma reopened its original store and cooking school in the town of Sonoma, California.

In his store, the founder of the brand, Charles (“Chuck”) Williams, began introducing cooking and serving equipment that he found during his travels to France in the 1950s, revolutionizing the American kitchen. For his brand’s logo, Williams picked an image of a pineapple – a symbol of hospitality. His goal was to make everyone feel welcome, and instill confidence and passion for culinary adventures and advancements in his customers. The reopening of the original store coincided with Williams’s 99th birthday, on occasion of which the City of Sonoma named October 2 “Chuck Williams Day.”

The legendary Williams-Sonoma founder was the first to discover and popularize many well-known brands when they were small producers. He introduced to the American public Le Creuset’s enameled cast iron ware, KitchenAid mixer, All-Clad’s bonded metal pans with the original aluminum core that offered rapid heat absorption and the stainless-steel interior, Mauviel’s copper cookware – the choice of professional cooks for its even conductivity and high temperature sensitivity, the clean classic look and white finish of Apilco, the original Bundt Cake Pan by Nordic Ware, Pillivuyt’s delicate porcelain cookware, the classic French Crepe Pan, Wüsthof chef’s knives, waffle makers, Picardie glassware, Peugeot salt and pepper mills, silicone spatulas, mandolins, and an array of new condiments, still carried by Williams-Sonoma stores, like Olio Santo Olive Oil, Aceto Balsamic Vinegar, Fleur de Sel French Sea Salt, Herbs of Provence, Maldon Sea Salt, Williams-Sonoma Glacéed Apricots, Moravian Ginger Spice Cookies, Nielsen-Massey Vanilla, and Mulling Spices.

“This is a momentous occasion coming home to Sonoma where the company began,” said Janet Hayes, the President of Williams-Sonoma brand. “It is our goal to honor this special place as well as Chuck’s legacy with an inspiring new destination that reflects the values upon which Chuck built the business.”

At the opening festivities, a cooking demo was offered by Tyler Florence, a chef and television host of several Food Network shows, followed by “Cochon BBQ” featuring Chefs Thomas McNaughton of Flour & Water, Matthew Accarrino of SPQR & Duskie Estes of Zazu.

The new store features an exhibition of the original and iconic “finds” from Europe, with some offered for sale items that exist only in extremely limited amounts; a Williams-Sonoma Home showroom with a home office, library and design studio where customers can receive a free decorating consultation; an open-air edible garden with Outdoor and Agrarian collections, a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen and pizza oven; and an in-store cooking school that carries on the founder’s commitment to both equip and educate home cooks.

The school allows for hands-on instruction of up to 12 students of all skill levelsfrom beginners to advanced cooks, in a fun and relaxing educational environment. In addition to classes, the school hosts a variety of programs including a Chef Series led by local chefs and culinary experts. Customized private classes are also available for a personalized cooking experience or an interactive special event.

Classes and programs at the cooking school include:
Technique classes: Free hour-long classes led by Williams-Sonoma culinary staff that include tastings of prepared dishes.
Junior Chef Classes: Free classes just for kids to learn how fun and easy cooking can be.  Children will cook and of course taste everything they prepare, including entrees, desserts and snacks.
Cookbook Club: Fee based 1½- to 2-hour demonstration classes featuring a 3-course tasting menu of recipes from the book.   Includes a signed cookbook.
Monthly Focus Classes: Fee based 1½ - to 2-hour classes includes a cooking demonstration, generous samples of featured dishes, and printed recipes to take home.
Artisans’ Market:  Exclusive event that bring artisanal products to the Williams-Sonoma store.  Customers can taste, learn and buy directly from local producers themselves.

Chef Series: Demonstrations featuring recognized cooks from the local community. 
Opening 2014 schedule:
             Chef Jen Demerest of Harvest Moon – 10/7
             Executive Chef Billy Reid of Hopmunk Tavern – 10/13
             Chef/Owner Duskie Estes of Zazu Kitchen & Farm – 10/14
             Chef and Culinary Instructor Jason Kupper – 10/20
             Chef Dustin Valette of Dry Creek Kitchen – 10/21
             Executive Chef Todd Thompson of The Red Grape – 11/3
             St Francis Winery – Wine Pairing Dinner - 11/11
             Chef Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustards – 12/12 
The new Williams-Sonoma store is located at 605 Broadway, Sonoma, California. Call for more information: 707-939-8974, or visit: